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The Shadows of Castle Fosse by Jill Tattersall
#1
Overall, this story is not bad. The plotting is done well, most of the dialogue is good. What it suffers from may be considered nitpicky on my part - inconsistencies on people's ages - but I cannot help feeling annoyed and irritated when the author makes such a point of people's ages but then gets it wrong. Good editing may have spotted them. Let me explain. Warning: spoiler alerts!

Some of the chapters have dates (in years) mentioned. The story begins in 1779, likely at the beginning of the calendar year, as events later on seem to suggest this, though little is mentioned of month or season, so it was difficult to guess.

At the beginning of 1779, Phoebe (17) marries Lord Quayle (55?) and a Miss Blackstone marries Mr. Southington in a challenge set forth by Lord Marchester after he becomes a father. Lord Quayle, Mr. Southington, and Lord Marchester were all school buddies, and Marchester is married to Phoebe's sister Sybil. So you know Marchester is at least 30 years older than Sybil and in fact he had been her mother's lover years before. Lord Quayle's nephew Jasper reports he is 5 when he meets Phoebe. She has a miscarriage later in the year. After that, Mrs. Southington becomes pregnant and delivers twins (Emily and Tom) in 1779 (technically speaking, it would have to be the latter half of that year). She dies in childbirth. Two days after the funeral, Phoebe discovers she is pregnant and tells Lord Quayle she will give him an heir in 5 months. So, I may not be the smartest person in the world, but this tells me that Phoebe's son Francis would be 5 months younger than Tom and Emily. The chapter in which he is born indicates it was 1780. Mention is later made that Sybil gives birth to Damaris in 1786 (no particular month, etc.). Sybil and Marchester then discuss arranging a marriage for Damaris and Quayle offered Jasper. The author makes bold to mention ages in these passages as Quayle turns to Jasper and says, "let's see you're 12 now" (which is correct) but when Tom comes into the picture a few passages later, he is quoted to be 9. Now how is that? Nevertheless, in 1795, Emily is referred to as being 16 (correct again). The story later details how Phoebe's sisters all die, then her father commits suicide and her mother comes to live with them and eventually dies in 1798. A month later, Phoebe falls to her death mysteriously. During this time, after Sybil died, Marchester married Lady Urania. The second half of the book opens in 1805 when Damaris and her stepmother Lady Urania move to Castle Fosse (the Quayle's home) after Lady Urania marries Francis, who is now Lord Quayle. Lady Urania is 10 years older than Francis. As some older characters talk to Damaris about the past, they made mention of Tom and Francis sharing a tutor even though there were years between them (really? wasn't it 5 months?). In another passage, they were said to be at least 18 months apart and others suggested even more. Jasper was accused by someone of deliberately hurting Francis, who was 8 years younger (more like 6). When Damaris develops feelings for Tom, he expressed concerns about their difference in ages (huh?) and Damaris, who constantly talked about how close she was to her father (who was close to 60 when she was born), suggested to herself that she was probably attracted to Tom because he was an older man (huh? again). She had another suitor who was her father's age.
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